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5 Tips for Getting Through a Cancer Diagnosis of Your Pet


There are few things that can strike fear into the heart of a pet owner so deeply or thoroughly as hearing the word “cancer” from the veterinarian who is caring for their pet.  Even when you have discovered certain signs or symptoms in your pet and suspect that they may be caused by cancer, and you have wisely chosen to bring your pet into the vet’s office for an examination, it’s incredibly very difficult to have your suspicions confirmed.  To put it plainly, it can be nothing short of devastating to hear that your pet has cancer, and the emotional challenges one then faces can seem to far outweigh all else.  While this is entirely understandable, it is also important to learn more about pet cancer and what to expect, as this can help one to not only manage their difficult emotions, but also to move forward onto the path for healing.

Tips for Getting Through

Oftentimes, it is the lack of understanding of a situation or what one can do about it that can cause the individual the most difficulty.  This is certainly true when one is dealing with a pet’s cancer diagnosis.  Following are five tips for getting through the diagnosis:

1. Allow yourself to be upset.  Experiencing fear, denial, anger, frustration, depression or hopelessness when your pet is diagnosed with cancer is completely normal, and therefore not something that one should feel they must hide.  In fact, in order to move forward and ask the really important questions one needs to ask their vet, they need to first move through the period where they feel they are blaming self or others for the condition.  This can be largely handled by allowing oneself to be upset, and move through this to where they are ready to do something about it.

2. Educate yourself.  You will be able to make better decision–for both you and your pet–if you thoroughly understand what is occurring, why it is occurring, and what can be done about it.  You may discover that five health professionals agree your pet’s cancer type is incurable, while two health professionals believe that it can be resolved.  The hope generated by the latter sources can be critical to your own ability to move forward, and you need to seek out these sources of hope while also gaining the information you need to understand what’s occurring.

3. Ask your veterinarian every question you have–even the really difficult ones.  You may not think you want to know your pet’s life expectancy, but the truth is that fear of the unknown may be far worse.  More importantly, you will want to learn about treatments and pain relief for your pet–specifically what your vet recommends and why–so that you have something you can do in order to move forward.

4. Take care of your own physical and mental health.  You cannot be helpful to your pet if you are so overwhelmed that you are actually unwell yourself.  Breathing deeply and taking long, relaxing walks can help to keep you calm and relaxed so that you are better able to take valuable action to help your pet.

5. Find social support.  No one should ever have to cope with their pet’s cancer diagnosis on their own.  Close friends and family members can provide one with the love and support they need in order to make it through this difficult time, whether they are simply there for one to talk to or they can actually provide valuable advice.

As you move forward, it is also very important to stay closely connected with your pet.  Spend time with them in their favorite locations and activities, sit with them, pet them and love them.    If there is a chance that they can overcome their illness, your love and connection will certainly help them get through.

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